- Entity e.g. a building, a bridge, a tunnel
- Complex (a group of entities) e.g. airports, hospitals, universities, power station
- Space e.g. office, canteen, parking area, operating theatre
- Product e.g. boiler, door, drain pipe
- Facilities this combines the space with an activity which can be carried out there, e.g. operating theatre.
Indeed, other classes can be added to a classification system such as ‘system’, which works very well in an MEP environment. Similarly, an ‘activities’ class would be very helpful to define a range of activities which might be able to be done within a particular space, as an alternative to using the ‘facilities’ class.
Although consultants and contractors have managed well using just a couple of the classes above, other groups have found great benefit in classifying in a number of different ways. For example, it would be very helpful in a hospital FM environment to use the ‘spaces’, ‘activities’, ‘systems’ and ‘products’ classes.
In a hospital it is useful to classify the ‘spaces’ in the first instance by type, and then to classify each space further by which ‘activities’ can be carried out within them. From this it is possible to classify the ‘systems’ which support the spaces and then the ‘products’ which form the systems. A practical example would be if the chilled water system was taken out of action then you could quickly see which spaces were affected – an operating theatre. Once that’s known it is simple to determine which activities cannot be carried out – a number of planned operations. Also, other products or equipment can be identified which can now be worked on as the system they belong to is not working – chillers or chilled beams. In this era of greater collaboration it is not enough to know what we are calling things, which classification system we are using. We must communicate with those we are working with to make sure that the solution suits all of us, and moreover that it is suitable for the whole life of the asset and not just the design, or the construction phase.
It may be that a new classification system is required to satisfy all parties involved in an asset and to make information available throughout its whole life. This is no simple task, which becomes more complex when the range of assets is considered in both buildings and infrastructure.
It is tempting to try to find solutions to what we do individually, but it is vital that any solution must be suitable for all stages of an asset’s life, for all types of assets and for all those involved in the asset. Once this has been achieved, the full potential of BIM can start to be exploited, and tangible benefits demonstrated in the use of information management processes.
The Technology Strategy Board launched the competition, “A digital tool for building information modelling”, in February 2014. The £1.5m competition is for the development of free-to-use BIM digital tools for a classification system and digital plan of work, the outstanding components of Level 2 BIM as defined by the BIM Task Group.
In Phase 1, up to £50k was available for feasibility studies to develop a Digital Tool for Building Information Modelling, lasting up to six weeks. These were awarded to three consortia at the end of May 2014. In Phase 2, a single participant from Phase 1 may receive up to £1m for a six-month project of further development. Phase 2 will start in late September 2014, for completion in March 2015.
BSRIA provides a range of BIM Support activities including network, events and one-day training courses.